The recent articles and discussion concerning the establishment of a container terminal in Newcastle makes for interesting reading.
Generally I believe the literature shows that the NSW government has no intention of establishing a container terminal in Newcastle and are determined to ensure that the Botany Bay terminal, along with the Kingsford-Smith Airport, continue to ensure traffic congestion across the state capital.
Perhaps a better idea would be to close the Botany Bay terminal, open a new terminal in Newcastle and keep the Port Kembla terminal. That way two regional areas in NSW would be able to share the logistic movement load by moving all Sydney bound containers by rail to a couple of road/rail transport nodes in Sydney in order to facilitate the road delivery of containers direct to customers.
I am aware that such a suggestion would be anathema to the state government’s normal Sydney-centric policy, as well as requiring a significant investment in both the Newcastle/Sydney and Port Kembla/Sydney rail lines and infrastructure.
Containers could move on double-decked wagons, which would allow a rapid rail/road transfer for Sydney deliveries but also provide direct access to all regional areas. Apart from removing large numbers of heavy vehicles from Sydney urban streets, properly planned it would also reduce the number of large road vehicle movements on existing highways.
Come on, Macquarie Street, think about the alternatives. We do not need to have everything in Sydney, the apparent centre of the universe.
SO the government has spent nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars (so far) to cut our rail service and replace it with light rail to the same destinations, with no plan, no business case, no public consultation, small transport benefit, and no public benefit (‘Tram’s $368m price tag unjustified: audit’, Herald 13/12).
The only plus, it seems, has been "an increase in property values and private investment". What a surprise! There is little comfort in saying "we told you so" but it seems that is the only option left to the community. A proper pubic consultation on improving public transport and public access to the foreshore would have delivered better and more innovative ways to spend our tax dollars, something that would have delivered both public and private benefits for the city. We weren't asked, we weren't listened to, and we haven't forgotten.
Roll on, March 23.
THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s words (‘‘Illegal’ deal’, Herald 11/12) are most welcomed for even blind Freddy could see from day one that this restrictive trade practice imposed on a leased Newcastle port ought to be illegal and therefore cast away. It is imperative that the government admit the restrictive deal is wrong and correct that decision right away.
The decision to lease or sell ports – either harbours or airports – is unwise in so many ways. The contracts of such leases restrict future governments from effectively managing necessary infrastructure, action that may become necessary over the life of the leases or sale period. I believe the fact that foreign ownership is often involved in such arrangements compromises the Australian security arrangements and should never happen.
The fistful of dollars that is obtained from such deals moves funds from one part of the economy to other areas and the cost is to lose control of the port’s infrastructure. These decisions always result in weakening the security of our nation and tie our hands to an uncertain future.
Privatisation is getting a fistful of dollars in the “now” and restrictions on the future, including higher prices for consumers of products or services delivered via the privatised entity. There is not one privatised entity of government that has delivered lower prices on any service or product.
FURTHER to Neville Aubrey’s reminder (Herald 13/12) of the historical connection between Christmas and nature, it would be timely for us all to look at the current impact of Christmas on the environment.
Let’s start with food: most people buy more than they need and significant amounts are wasted. Christmas food has a major animal component: turkey, chicken, ham, pork, etc., all known for adding to greenhouse gases.
Then we come to the gift giving: I’ve seen estimates that up to one third of presents end up instantly in the garbage bin. Certainly, we have all received presents that were unsuitable and unwanted.
Most of us pass them on to an op shop. We need also to look at the production of these gifts, mostly from China, where there are very lax regulations to protect either workers of the environment.
Let’s cut down on the excesses of food and buying, make gifts, give promises of your time, give an experience: theatre, movies, meal out, etc. Every little bit helps.
WE cannot allow the significance of the Auditor General’s adverse findings (‘Tram’s $368m price tag unjustified: audit’, Herald 13/12) on Newcastle’s light rail project be swept under the carpet. Most telling was the lack of transparency, accountability, genuine community consultation and an independent, robust business case.
I believe the importance of protecting and preserving the public interest in NSW and Newcastle has clearly run off the rails. The biggest casualties are integrity and the public’s trust in our diabolic political system at all levels of government.
Political history establishes that corruption is virtually inevitable, a human condition where two or more parties will collude to boost their private interests and political power at the expense of what may be deemed the overall, collective or public interest. The recognised antidote to this state of nature is the establishment of process/laws and well-funded independent organisations such as NSW’s ICAC and the Auditor-General to ensure sustained integrity, objectivity and transparency in governments.
The latter, essential element provides the necessary ray of sunshine to expose and sterilise those dark environments, lack of business cases and cronyism that appear to still exist in parts of Newcastle.
I encourage ICAC to revisit Newcastle for careful scrutiny. This will resolve concerns.
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